Resort Review: Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort – Homebase to Natural Wonders

This summer we piled the family into an Apollo RV for a week touring the National Parks in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  The final stop on our National Park Grand Circle Tour was two nights at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, a stunning 8,000 acre propery that abuts the eastern edge of Zion National Park.  Continue reading for more photos and details from our stay at the beautiful and convenient Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort – a fantastic home base for Zion National Park Adventures.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Check-In and Accommodations

We didn’t realize it at the time, but one of the best decisions planning our National Park road trip was reserving a campsite at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for our final nights in Utah before returning the RV. After spending a long day on the road driving to, exploring, and driving from the Grand Canyon, we needed some pampering, and that’s just what we received starting with a warm, friendly reception.  We rolled into the resort late at night, in the dark, and they quickly directed us to our campsite so we could get some sleep.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Waking up the next morning I was amazed at the sublime beauty surrounding us, and after a hearty breakfast we were treated to a tour of the property.  There are so many different types of accommodations on the ranch you are bound to find something to fit your family.  Of course there’s the RV campground where we stayed…

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

But you will also find two-room cowboy log cabin suites complete with living room, bedroom (some with bunk beds), kitchenette, satellite TV, and a front porch.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Glamping sites, and even covered wagons… what kid wouldn’t want to sleep under the stars pretending they’re crossing the prairie in the old west.  Heck, what Dad wouldn’t want to sleep in a covered wagon (all while having modern bathroom facilities in the nearby shower house).

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

There are also 20+ vacation homes on Zion Ponderosa Ranch property ranging from 2 bedroom houses that sleep 8 on up to luxurious 8 bedroom houses that sleep 40.  So many resorts say they have something for everyone, but Zion Ponderosa Ranch truly takes that to the next level.

Pools and Recreation

One of the true highlights of Zion Ponderosa Ranch was the wide variety of recreation options on their own property – let alone the close proximity to the National Park.  Let me say that after a week hiking through various National Parks, soaking in Zion Ponderosa’s multi-level pool (and also soaking in the gorgeous view) felt fantastic.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Aside from the pool, I felt like a kid at summer camp with the myriad of activities on property including a zip line, climbing wall, trampoline bungee, rifle range, horseshoes, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and more.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

There are also guided and unguided Jeep tours, ATV (and mini-ATV) rides, 4x4s, and shuttles to hiking trailheads leading into Zion National Park.  You can easily entertain your entire family for a longer stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

The highlight of our visit was a 90 minute horseback ride along the mountain trails with incredible views of all the National Parks we visited over the week. From atop Pine Knoll we saw Zion’s Checkerboard Mesa, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and the red rocks of Cedar Breaks and Bryce. It was a fitting cap to our National Park road trip, and my equine loving daughters couldn’t get enough of their sweet horses.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch ResortZion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Looking for a vacation entirely wrapped around activities?  Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort has recently partnered with two premiere race series: Vacation Races and Ragnar Relay.  The Zion Half Marathon starts on the grounds of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort property ends 13 (mostly downhill) miles later at the east entrance of Zion National Park.  The Ragnar Trail Zion – UT takes place entirely on Zion Ponderosa Ranch property as the resort becomes Ragnar Village for a weekend with yoga, bonfires, s’mores, music, and entertainment.

Dining and Restaurants

With all the activities at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, you are bound to work up an appetite.  Of course we could cook our own meals in our RV, but we really appreciated having the option to eat in their on site Ray’s Restaurant.  The hearty breakfast buffet includes all the standards: eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, pastries, etc.  Bonus for those staying in the Western Wagons, Cowboy Cabins, and Cabin Suites – the breakfast buffet is included.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

The restaurant is named for Ray Lewis, who originally purchased the ranch’s 8,000 acres in the early 1960’s.  Ray wanted a place where his family could create memories hunting and enjoying the land next to Zion National Park.  Zion Ponderosa Ranch continues Ray’s legacy, and the food served in the restaurant bearing his name brings families together over a meal just as his family gathered on the land.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Coffee lovers will appreciate The Narrows Coffee Bar serving plenty of brewed (and non coffee) treats throughout the day.  The Blue Belly snack bar next to the pool offers a pizza service delivering the pie poolside as well as a variety of snow cones, ice cream, cold drinks, and a variety of treats to help you stay cool in the summer.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

Ray’s Restaurant is your only option for dinner (besides cooking your own), but menu offers a variety of comfort food: pasta, steaks, and chicken as well as some of the largest desserts I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, when Ray’s says a dessert is for two, take them at their word.

For more of pictures from around the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, check out the gallery below.  Note: the photo gallery requires Flash Player, click here to view all the photos from Zion Ponderosa if your device is not Flash equipped.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch has an ideal location situated in the center of one of America’s highest concentrations of natural wonders.  Literally bordering Zion National Park, you sit a mere 10 minutes from the park entrance while on ranch property.  However, Zion’s not the only wonder in the area.  Bryce Canyon is 75 minutes away, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon a two hour drive, Cedar Breaks and Grand Staircase National Monuments are both less than an hour from the resort – making Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort an excellent home base for exploring the region.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt was hosted by Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort and received meals, activities, and an RV site.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.